I grew up in Australia, in a small country town in Gippsland, where you’ll find wonders like Wilsons Promontory and Tara Bulga National Park.
I visited New Zealand for a wedding when I was very young. All I can remember is being stung by a bee and being scared of the volcanoes. I’d definitely love to return one day.
I visited Malaysia for a debating tournament back in 2013. Hence I only really made it to Kuala Lumpur, and then a couple of days in Penang. But I especially love the street food in this country and can’t wait to return. I’m actually considering doing a second program with my university there once I return from this big trip.
South Korea (2015)
Last year, I made it to South Korea for a debating tournament. I didn’t know what to expect from this country but quickly fell in love with Seoul and Gyeongju. The absolute highlight for me was all of the amazing new dishes I got to eat, especially the Dak Galbi!
My sister and I travelled to Thailand in early 2015. It is my favourite country in the whole world; I love the food, I love the people and of course the beaches. We got to visit Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta. Ko Lanta was definitely my favourite- I can see myself retiring there for two months of every year!
After spending a couple of weeks in Malaysia, my friend and I headed to Vietnam to explore Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. It’s such a beautiful country and I can’t wait to head back there to do the south of the country as well.
I only spent three days in this country as a safari stopover on the way back from Rwanda, but I got to do amazing things like finally see a lion and kiss a giraffe. It makes me sad to think how many people can’t or won’t visit this country now because of the security threat.
After my high school graduation I volunteered in Rwanda for two weeks. I found this country to be full of amazing people that were still living with the after effects of the genocide that almost destroyed their society. It was great to see their rebuilt society.
Of course the kids were also incredibly cute!
I popped through Tirana on my way from Kotor, Montenegro to Athens, Greece.
My first stop on my 15 month trip around the world was Austria, where I was able to catch up with some close couchsurfing friends, that I hosted back in 2013. They took the week off to show me around their country, including all of the Christmas markets in Vienna, to some delicious restaurants and to the Austria countryside.
I visited Belgium in March 2016 for a short period of three days. I felt it was easier to base myself in one city (Brussels) and used it as a base to visit both Bruges and Ghent. Brussels tends to get a lot of criticism, a lot of people label it boring. But I absolutely loved this city, especially because of all of the opportunities to eat waffles, fries and chocolate and to drink the best beer in the world.
This tiny country is easy to visit in a short amount of time. I managed to visit both Veliko Turnovo, the famous Buzludzha (an amazing communist monument that looks like a UFO on a hill), Sofia and the famous Rila Monastery (which was one of the major reasons I arrived in Bulgaria). Surprisingly, I ate some amazing food while in Bulgaria!
Bosnia and Herzegovina (2016)
This ended up being my favourite country in the Balkans, and one of my favourites in all of Europe. The recent history here is something that is important part of any visit to the country, and the Turkish and Muslim influences can be seen everywhere. This makes Bosnia so different to any other country I visited which was super refreshing given all of my European destinations had started to mush into one.
After a quick trip back to the UK to surprise my grandmother and get some of my assignments done I flew into Zadar, only staying long enough to do a day trip to the spectacular Plitvice Lakes. I wish I had more time in Croatia but during my 9 days in the country I was able to see Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik. The highlight was clearly Hvar and I ended up spending five days instead of three here.
Czech Republic (2016)
Prague was the second stop of my trip with my Grandpa through Krakow, Prague and Berlin. It’s a nice middle point between the two cities. I didn’t love Prague as much as Krakow, it was a bit too touristy for me and I just didn’t think it as charming. But the beer was great!
I spent five days in Copenhagen visiting my friend Stine. Copenhagen reminded me a lot of Melbourne, especially because of the cute cafes and great coffee culture. I had the closest thing to a Melbourne smashed avo of my whole trip in a little cafe in this city. But my favourite part of the city was Copenhagen Street Food; so many great food stalls and trucks to eat at.
Estonia was my second stop on my Baltics adventure. Tallinn also happened to be another milestone for me; my 100th UNESCO World Heritage Site.
My grandmother and I did the Santa Tour of Lapland back in December 2009. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the Northern Lights but we did take a husky ride, visit the ice hotel and of course get to see Santa!
France (2009-2010, 2o15, 2016)
When I was 16 I spent three months on exchange in Normandy, in the North of France. I also made a quick stopover in Paris at the start of my 15 month trip in order to activate my working holiday visa. In February 2016 I finally got to explore the South of France including Toulouse (with day trips to Carcassonne and Albi), Avignon, Aixe-en-Provence, Marseille and Nice, as well as Lyon. I then returned to Paris after Switzerland and spent a week in the city. I also returned in April 2016 to take a trip to the Loire Valley and attend the ANZAC Day Dawn Service on the Western Front.
I visited Munich, Regensburg, Bamberg, Wurzburg, Speyer, Trier and Cologne on my Bavarian/Rhineland trip at the end of December 2015. The Christmas markets in all of these towns were spectacular and I got to see some great UNESCO World Heritage Sites as I traversed the country. I also returned to Germany in September 2016 to visit Berlin, which was my favourite part of Germany. It’s an awesome city.
I spent more than a month in Greece in July 2016. I started in Athens before travelling up to Delphi and Meteora. But the majority of my time in Greece was spent on the Greek islands. I managed to get to .. islands during my time in Greece; Chios, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Milos, Santorini and Ios. Chios and Milos were definitely my favourites.
I spent three days in Budapest in December 2015. It quickly became one of my favourite cities in the world and three days was definitely not enough time. I’ll have to return at some stage! My number one tip for visiting Budapest is to invest in the Budapest Card!
Italy (2009 and 2016)
I visited Italy while on exchange in France. I managed to make it to both Rome and to the Abruzzo region. I returned at the beginning of April and lived in Italy for two months while studying abroad in Florence. I used most of my weekends to escape somewhere in this country including trips to Venice, the Cinque Terre, Pisa, San Gimignano, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
I spent 2 weeks in Ireland exploring the country on a Paddywagon Tour. We headed to Dingle, Killarney, Cork, Galway, Derry and Belfast. The highlight for me was definitely the live music and pub culture, especially in places like Belfast and Dublin. I also loved learning about the history of the troubles in Belfast and Derry, and visiting the beautiful Causeway Coast.
When my plans to Turkey got cancelled, I found myself with some extra time in Europe. I decided to head to the Baltics and Riga, Latvia was my first stop. What I loved most about this city was the vibe; the hostels were cool, the bars were cool and it just felt like a good city to hang out in. I was also super surprised to find the nearby beach of Jarmala- one of the best beaches I’ve seen in Europe.
The last stop in my trip through the Baltics was the tiny nation of Lithuania. My favourite part of my visit to Vilnius was definitely the people in it- we had some great times with locals that we met just drinking in a bar.
After picking up super cheap return flights from Pisa, I decided to escape to Malta for a five day long weekend. For a country that hadn’t even made my original plans, Malta was a huge surprise. I loved the mix of natural and historical sites.
This small principality makes an interesting day trip from nearby Nice, with it taking less than a hour to get there on the cheap local bus. I’d recommend stopping in Eze on the way as Monaco itself can be seen in an afternoon.
It was an easy jump between Dubrovnik and the Old Town of Kotor. Whilst this town isn’t as undiscovered as it used to be, it is incredibly beautiful!
The Netherlands (2015)
I visited Amsterdam for five days in December 2015. The amazing museums in this city, especially the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank Huis were the highlight of my trip.
Even before I arrived in Norway I knew it was going to be one of my favourite countries. I spent 2.5 weeks traversing this beautiful country. The last 12 days of my time spent in Norway was on the Hurtigruten MS Lofoten on their round trip cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes and then back to Bergen. It was on this trip that I finally got to achieve my lifelong ambition to see the Northern Lights!
I visited Krakow while travelling with my Grandpa. I absolutely loved the city. It had so much old town charm, but didn’t seem as touristy as places like Prague. I even decided to return there afterwards without Pa so that I could engage in the bar scene and drink copious amounts of cheap and delicious Polish vodka.
Portugal is my new favourite country in Europe. I spent a week in Lisbon, followed by four days in Porto and couldn’t get enough of the food, cheap prices, beautiful sights and friendly people. It’s one of those countries that I can see myself living in one day. My number one recommendation for Portugal is to stay at the Yes! Hostels!
I spent just five days in this country; splitting my time between Brasov and Bucharest. I expected to fall entirely in love with Romania, a country I have wanted to visit ever since reading the Historian. I can’t say I loved it as much as I loved other countries in the Balkans. But I do want to return one day to visit all of the places I missed (I accidentally spent too long in Slovakia!).
The capital of Belgrade was really just a convenient stopover on my way from Bulgaria to Bosnia and Herzegovina but it absolutely surprised me. I had hands down the best night out of my life at an old school rave in an old abandoned airplane hanger. And the hostels in the city are seriously amazing- I had such a good time at Madness Hostel with an amazing crew of people.
I find it interesting that my first real hitchhiking experience occurred in a country that people stopped visiting after watching the horror movie; Hostel. Luckily I arrived safely in the tiny town of Zdiar that hundreds of backpackers head to every year for one reason; the Ginger Monkey. This hostel is the perfect base for exploring this part of Slovakia and the Tatras Mountains. I did some very intense hiking in the region and ended up spending a little bit longer at the Ginger Monkey after I injured my knee. I was surely not complaining.
After finishing in Italy I jumped on a bus to Slovenia where I spent five days exploring the city. Although five days wasn’t a lot of time I was able to see a huge part of this tiny country including Lake Bled, Ljubljana, the Skocjan Caves, Piran and Skofja Loka. I loved the people, I loved the beautiful landscape, I loved white water rafting and I loved the food. Slovenia is definitely on my favourites list (probably only behind Thailand and Portugal).
I spent almost a whole month in Spain from January to February of 2016. I took the overnight train from Portugal and started in Coimbra. Over the next couple of weeks I discovered Salamanca, San Sebastian, Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Valencia, Tarragona and Barcelona. My favourite destinations were San Sebastian for the incredible food, and Granada for the amazing hikes and scenery and of course for the free tapas!
Whilst I was in Copenhagen, I made a day trip to Lund in Sweden. The highlight of this trip was definitely passing across the famous Oresund Bridge. This bridge linking Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden is a feat of engineering, and includes both a bridge and a tunnel. It’s pretty amazing that I can travel to another country from Copenhagen in less time than it takes me to cross Melbourne.
I decided to pop in to Switzerland for 5 days on my way to Paris from Lyon. While I would have loved to stay longer, the expense of Switzerland meant it was easy for me to prioritise other places over this country. It’s also a country I’d prefer to return to in summer because I missed out on many of the beautiful hikes and scenery around Interlaken because of terrible weather. That said, there was nothing better than the snow capped mountains, the scenery was just spectacular.
United Kingdom (2009, 2015-2016)
In 2009 I travelled to the UK to spend Christmas with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins and also to catch up with my grandmother who was visiting just before Christmas. They live in Chester, which is between Manchester and Liverpool.
At the end of 2015 I did exactly the same thing, flying to Chester for a holiday from my holiday and to spend Christmas with familiar faces.
I also had the best New Years Eve of my life in London passing in 2015 and welcoming 2016. It was great to spend an extended period of time in London, as it gave me time to visit the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Apsley House and Harry Potter Studios. My mum also bought me a ticket for the Westend and I entrenched my love of theatre by going to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Vatican City (2009)
It apparently counts as a separate country so I have to add it separately. It was a spectacular place to visit though, especially the Sistine Chapel!
NORTH AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Cuba is easily one of my favourite countries in the whole world. I don’t think I’ve ever felt safer or more welcome. The local people are insanely friendly and insanely good looking and the culture is like nothing else I have ever experienced. I drank lots of Havana club rum, learnt to salsa with locals, smoked cuban cigars, went on horse rides in Vinales and home-stayed with locals. Its changing rapidly and I’m glad I got to visit sooner rather than later.
Mexico was a destination that has been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember. The main reason being that it is one of my favourite cuisines. I spent three weeks in this country with my Dad. Other than stuffing our faces full of amazing Mexican food, we all chilled on the beach in Tulum and Isla Mujeres, got cultured in Mexico City, visited the Mayans at Chichen Itza and celebrated Day of the Dead in Oaxaca.
United States of America (2016)
I only had time (and money) for a quick five day stopover in New York but I loved the city, especially the amazing food scene. New York is probably one of the few places in the world I’d consider living for a couple of years.
The worst border crossing of my whole trip was definitely the three hours we spent at Chilean/Argentinian border in the middle of night. As a consequence we arrived in Mendoza three hours late. But that didn’t stop us from heading out on a horseback ride with a gorgeous landscape followed by a traditional Parilla (Argentinian barbecue). Of course we couldn’t leave without also tasting the amazing wine on a bicycle wine tour. But the best part of Argentina for me was the five days I spent in Buenos Aires which was just such a cool city with amazing nightclubs (and finally no salsa music) and incredible food. We finally left Argentina after marvelling at the insanely wonderful Iguazu Falls on the Argentinian side.
I only spent a week in Bolivia. I partied in La Paz and marvelled at this city built on the top of the mountain. But the clear highlight was our 3 day tour of the Bolivian Salt Flats and the desert. Everyday of the tour brought amazing landscapes and my face was almost always glued to the window.
Brazil was the last stop in South America and felt super different to every other country I had visited on the continent. From the metropolis of Sao Paulo to the tropical beaches at Paraty or on Ilha Grande, I had such a great time in this country- drinking far too many Carprinhas and finally getting some beach time. But of course the best part of my time in the country was celebrating Carnivale in Rio de Janeiro. Some people had warned me it would be over hyped but it was everything I imagined and more!
Our Bolivian tour ended in the Atacama desert in Chile. We quickly jumped on a bus and headed to Iquique- it was time to be able to breathe again at sea level and enjoy the beach. We then flew to the capital where we enjoyed the history, culture and street art. But the best street art could be found in the town of Valparaiso which was my favourite part of Chile. We also had an awesome night out with locals.
If you ask anyone on the South American ‘gringo trail’ what their favourite country was, the answer is always Colombia. I don’t think I ever heard anyone answer any differently. Part of that reason is that Colombia is still sheltered from main stream tourists who still think the country is super dangerous. That is fine with me because the majority of travellers in Colombia are backpackers which leads to an awesome culture. The locals also aren’t used to tourists so they are super friendly. It’s a country I’ve got plans to return to in 2019 when I tackle Central America.
The majority of my time in Ecuador was spent fulfilling a longtime dream of mine and visiting the Galapagos Islands. I spent 8 days sailing around the islands on a catamaran and then spent a couple of days in a hostel on Isla Isabela. There really is no where like it anywhere in the world; the animals are so accessible. We saw 200 year old tortoises, blue footed boobies, iguanas and swam with sea turtles, white tipped reef sharks and sea lions.
I spent a month in Peru. I celebrated Christmas on the beach at the infamous Loki Hostel in Mancora and I ate amazing ceviche in Lima. I got to tick off another bucket list item by spending a week in an Amazon Lodge in Tambopata Natural Park. I had some amazing nights out in Cusco, despite struggling from the altitude and was absolutely blown away by the ancient city of Macchu Picchu. Finally, I did a homestay on an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca- the highest navigable lake in the world.